DIXON – The Dixon City Council recently approved tweaking the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone to make way for a proposed 4,000-acre solar farm south of Dixon.

In March, the Quad Cities Regional Economic Development Authority agreed to expand its enterprise zone boundaries for the utility-grade solar development being proposed by Duke Energy Renewable Solar LLC.

It would be located on a large footprint south of the industrial park on state Route 26 in South Dixon Township.

The local zone only had about 560 acres to spare for new development, so the QCREDA is handling incentives for the project.

"The Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone seeks to be welcoming to this investment in Lee County and are happy to be working with Duke," said Andy Shaw, Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone administrator and GIS specialist at Blackhawk Hills Regional Council. "Lee County is a prime location for electrical generation, as evidenced by two natural gas generation facilities, the multiple wires of regional transmission networks visible along our highways, and of course the recent solar interest."

The City Council approved amending the Lee-Ogle zone by moving a connecting strip of land so it doesn't overlap with the project boundary. Two zones can exist in the same county, but they can't overlap, Shaw said.

Council members voted unanimously without discussion.

All governing bodies involved in the zone must approve an ordinance to amend it.

The goal is to have the project online in 2023; it would generate 200 to 500 megawatts of power per year, larger than any existing projects in the state.

Estimated costs for a 500-megawatt solar system would be around $450 million, according to the enterprise zone application, but the project is in early development stages.

Long-term leases have been signed by multiple landowners and additional steps include pursuing an interconnection agreement with PJM Interconnection and obtaining permits at the state, county and local levels.

Enterprise zones offer development incentives including property tax abatement, sales-tax exemption on building materials and state investment tax credits.

Lee County